Summer Snippets 2 : Rayleigh in 1086, Frenchmen, Wine and Slaves

In 1086 Rayleigh was a place for wine-making. There were 2 slaves, probably Saxons. Perhaps they were descendants of some of the people whose remains were buried off Rawreth Lane hundreds of years earlier. The people who were in charge here were Norman French.

We know this from the entry for Rayleigh in the Domesday Book, which was prepared in 1086 for most of England. You get a comparison between what was in Rayleigh in 1066 (When King Harold was defeated at the Battle of Hastings and the Normans took over) and what was in Rayleigh in 1086 (when the book was complied by William the Conquerors’ men). This is the entry:

Swein holds Rayleigh in lordship as one manor, for 5 hides. Then 2 ploughs in lordship, now
3. Always 10 men?s ploughs. Then 21 villagers, now 6; then 6 smallholders, now 15; always
2 slaves.
Meadow, 10 acres; woodland, 40 pigs; now 1 park; 6 ?arpents? of vines and it pays 20
measures of wine if it does well. Then 4 cobs, 13 cattle, 25 pigs, 105 sheep; now 5 cobs, 2
foals, 20 cattle, 11 pigs, 80 sheep and 11 goats.
Value then ?10; now, apart from the wine, as much.
In this manor Swein made his castle.
Of this manor, 4 Frenchmen hold 2 hides. 4 ploughs. 4 smallholders.
Value 60s in the same assessment
Swein holds Rayleigh in lordship, which 1 free man held before 1066 as a manor, for 2?
hides. Always 2 ploughs in lordship.
Then 3 villagers, now 2; then 5 smallholders, now 6, who then had 2? ploughs and now have
only ?.
Then 1 cob, 2 cattle and 15 sheep; now 2 cobs, 9 cattle, 9 pigs, 20 sheep.
Value then and later 30s; now 40[s].

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We found this information in an Essex County Council “Historic Town Assessment Report” for Rayleigh, produced in 1999. It’s 28 pages long, and you can download it here.